Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are scrambling to do damage control as Markle’s family drama continues to put a damper on their royal wedding.
Markle’s half-siblings have stolen the majority of the limelight, sharing details and allegations about the bride-to-be’s behavior in recent years.
Some have fired shots at Markle’s alleged betrayal of her family over the years, and at least one admits to giving her father, Thomas, ill advice to cash in on staged photos.
But through it all, the couple has remained cool, releasing statements through Kensington Palace asking the public for their “understanding and respect,” particularly for her father.
Thomas has been breaking news daily in the days leading up to the royal ceremony. He was scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
“Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are very much looking forward to welcoming Ms. Markle’s parents to Windsor for the wedding,” Kensington Palace said in a May 4 statement. “Both of the bride’s parents will have important roles in the wedding.”
But plans have changed several times over the course of just a few days. Here’s what you need to know about Markle and the bizarre string of events that unfolded ahead of her special day.
Staged paparazzi pics
Weeks before the wedding, photos of Thomas circulated online showing him trying on his tuxedo for his daughter’s big day, brushing up on Britain with tourism books at a cafe, and Googling his daughter and Prince Harry. It appeared as if the dad genuinelly wanted to learn more about his future son-in-law — but it was only a matter of time until the truth came out: the pictures were fake.
Thomas claimed a paparazzi agency approached him about taking staged photos and he believed it would help recast his image in a more positive light. However, he admitted the photos made him appear “stupid and hammy,” and has since said he regrets his decision to participate in the charade.
Markle’s estranged half-sister, Samantha Grant, later took responsibility for the cheesy paparazzi shots, which were taken in Mexico, where her dad lives.
“The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault,” Grant tweeted on May 14. “The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family.”
Thomas Markle bows out — then changes his mind
After news about the staged photos broke, TMZ reported Thomas, 73, would no longer attend the wedding due to embarassment. The father admitted to the celebrity gossip site on May 14 that the photos looked “stupid and hammy” and he regrets posing for them. At the time, he said he suffered a heart attack six days prior.
“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation,” Kensington Palace, reportedly surprised by the news, said in a statement later that day.
The next day, Thomas apparently changed his mind, telling TMZ he does want to walk his daughter down the aisle. The next day, however, he was hospitalized again due to his heart condition and reportedly underwent surgery.
Markle’s dad undergoes heart surgery
The palace has not revealed any details about Thomas’ health issues, but TMZ says Thomas remains hospitalized in California after undergoing a procedure Wednesday to clear blocked coronary arteries. He reportedly told the website he was OK after three stents were inserted, but he needed to rest.
Ending days of speculation, Markle confirmed on May 17 her father will not be able to attend her wedding due to health problems.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding,” Markle said in a statement. “I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.”
Paparazzi confrontation leads to broken ankle for half-sister
Shortly after TMZ reported on Thomas’ health status, the website got word about another family member: Markle’s half-sister Samantha. Samantha reportedly suffered a broken ankle and a fractured knee after a member of the paparazzi attempted to snap photos of her and her boyfriend, Mark, while they were driving in Florida.
In an attempt to avoid photos, Mark swerved and crashed into a concrete post, according to TMZ.
Markle’s half-brother calls her a “phony”
Markle’s half-brother, Thomas Jr., claimed Markle is a “phony” and has been “giving the greatest performance of her life” since she became famous. He claims they used to be close and saw each other from 2009 to 2011 pretty regularly, but she’s since iced him out.
“Once she got into Hollywood she turned into a different person,” Thomas told the Daily Mirror.. “She’s clearly forgotten her roots and her family.”
“Dear Prince, It’s not too late”
In a scathing letter addressed to Prince Harry, Thomas Jr. told the royal that he still has time to back out of the wedding.
“As more time passes to your royal wedding, it became very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history. Meghan Markle is obviously not the right woman for you,” he wrote a few weeks ago in an open letter obtained by In Touch, slamming his “shallow, conceited” half-sister for not inviting some of her relatives to the event.
“Most beautiful royal” — Runway model Lady Amelia Windsor, dubbed “the world’s hottest royal” by the press, who is 37th in line to the throne, was reportedly not invited.
Spice Girls — Spice Girls Mel B and Mel C were apparently not invited, Page Six revealed on May 16, officially shutting down rumors that the girl group was going to perform at the reception.
Political figures — President Trump, former President Obama and wife Michelle and British Prime Minister Theresa May did not make the cut.
Extended family — Several members of Markle’s extended family ‒ including her nephews Tyler Dooley and Thomas and their mother Tracy, who was married to Markle’s half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr. ‒ were not invited to the royal event, TMZ reported. They will, however, act as London correspondents for “Good Morning Britain” during the ceremony.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco and The Associated Press contributed to this report.